What Are Miranda Rights? and more...



What Are Miranda Rights?

businessmaninhandcuffsLarge.jpgWhen a person is in custody…

…and before he/she is questioned by law enforcement, the suspect must be informed of their Miranda Rights, which stem from the US Supreme Court 1966 ruling in Miranda v. Arizona. These rights require the arrestee to be informed of his/her constitutional rights to counsel and to remain silent. If the arrestee is not informed of these rights, any evidence gained from the questioning is not admissible as evidence in a court of law.

Miranda Warning

The wording itself is called the Miranda Warning, and its issuance by an officer to a suspect in custody is often informally referred to as the suspect being Mirandized.

Below is the wording in the Miranda Warning:

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?

Some police departments— such as in Indiana, New Jersey, Nevada, Oklahoma and Alaska— add the following sentence to the Miranda Warning:

We have no way of giving you a lawyer, but one will be appointed for you, if you wish, if and when you go to court.

The person in custody must issue…

…a clear, affirmative answer to the Miranda Warning. In other words, silence is not a response, nor is silence an indication that the person is waiving his/ her rights, because the arrestee may not understand or may not speak English as his or her first language. Throughout the US, many law enforcement officers have translations of the Miranda Warning on forms or cards that they present to those in custody.

Let’s say a suspect in custody clearly and affirmatively waives his Miranda rights. If he changes his mind at any time prior to or even during a police interrogation and expresses a wish to remain silent, the interrogation must cease. Or, if the arrestee states that he wants an attorney, the interrogation must cease until an attorney is present.

By the way, US military branches provide for the right against self-incrimination through a form that informs suspects of their charges and their rights, which they are required to sign.


The above content is based on an excerpt from A Lawyer’s Primer for Writers: From Crimes to Courtrooms by Shaun Kaufman and Colleen Collins.  All rights reserved.

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Shaun Kaufman has 30 years of in-court experience, with hundreds of hours spent defending numerous high-profile cases including homicide, white-collar theft and RICO offenses. Specialties: Criminal defense, personal injury, business litigation, DUI.

Shaun Kaufman Law: 303-309-0430
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Driverless Cars, Speed Traps and Ticket Magnets

Did you know the Volkswagen Rabbit is the #6 most ticketed car?

Did you know the Volkswagen Rabbit is the #6 most ticketed car?

Here’s a few handy links on the status of automated driving bills, speed traps in the U.S. and Canada, and the top 20 cars likely to be ticketed.

Check on Status of Automated Driving Bills

The Automated Driving: Legislative and Regulatory Action page provides information about legislative and regulatory developments in self-driving vehicles and other automated driving functions.

There is also a quick-look U.S. graphic that shows which states’ automated driving laws have passed, are under consideration or failed.

Automated Driving: Legislative and Regulatory Action

Additional Reading: Current Law and Potential Legal Issues Pertaining to Automated, Autonomous, and Connected Vehicles

Find Speed Traps in Your Region

The National Speed Trap Exchange offers information on over 80,000 speed traps in the U.S. and Canada. Click on a state or province to find speed traps in your area: National Speed Trap Exchange

Ticket Magnets: Top 20 Cars

Insurance.com offers this list of the top 20 cars that get the most tickets: Ticket magnets: the cars with the most violations

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Managing Partner at Shaun Kaufman Law
Shaun Kaufman has 30 years of in-court experience, with hundreds of hours spent defending numerous high-profile cases including homicide, white-collar theft and RICO offenses. Specialties: Criminal defense, personal injury, business litigation, DUI.

Shaun Kaufman Law: 303-309-0430
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Films About Lawyers: THE VERDICT (1982)

Story Synopsis

Paul Newman, 1954 (image is in the public domain)

Paul Newman, 1954 (image is in public domain)

The Verdict starred two powerhouse actors, Paul Newman and James Mason, and was directed by Sidney Lumet. In this courtroom drama, Paul Newman plays ambulance-chasing lawyer Frank Galvin, who was once a successful attorney at a posh Boston firm but has now hit bottom. A down-on-his luck alcoholic, Galvin has lost all of his cases over the last few years, and crashes funerals in desperate attempts to drum up business.

When an attorney-friend hands Galvin a “sure thing” medical malpractice case where Galvin can make some money on a contingency basis, Galvin doesn’t really care about the case, just that he can finally make some bucks. But in the course of doing yet another wrong thing, Galvin gradually comes around to doing what’s right.

Why This Film Is a Favorite

The story chronicles a lawyer’s redemption through his handling of a highly charged medical malpractice case.

Some lawyers have mentioned how this movie shows how difficult it can be for an individual fighting for justice against the corporate money-machine.

Legally Realistic?

Some lawyers have also said that The Verdict isn’t always legally realistic — how in some of the courtroom scenes rules of civil procedure are side-stepped in favor of dramatic tension. Another legal no-no is that the defense hid evidence in the discovery process from opposing counsel.

Frank Galvin’s Character

In real life, there are all kinds of jokes about lawyers being sharks, and lawyers not having souls, but those are one-dimensional characterizations of attorneys. Galvin starts out as a joke, but he’s more complex than that. In the course of the movie, you discover him to be a complicated, three-dimensional character who’s a hero despite his flaws.

(This article is excerpted from A Lawyer’s Primer for Writers: From Crimes to Courtrooms, by Shaun Kaufman and Colleen Collins)

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Managing Partner at Shaun Kaufman Law
Shaun Kaufman has 30 years of in-court experience, with hundreds of hours spent defending numerous high-profile cases including homicide, white-collar theft and RICO offenses. Specialties: Criminal defense, personal injury, business litigation, DUI.

Shaun Kaufman Law: 303-309-0430
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Private Detectives and Crime Scenes

As many readers of this blog know, I co-owned a private investigations agency with my better half for over a decade. We specialized in legal investigations and worked hundreds of cases during that time. I brought to the agency my 18 years experience as a criminal lawyer, during which I had trained at least a dozen legal investigators, so I knew what attorneys needed when they retained a PI’s services for pre-litigation.

Being a PI Led to Teaching Workshops

Me and thriller writer Robert Crais. He's the good-looking guy.

Me and NYT bestselling thriller writer Robert Crais.

During those years, mystery and suspense writers contacted us with questions about crafting a plausible private eye character. That led to our teaching workshops at writers’ conferences, such as Left Coast Crime, the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Mystery Writers of America and Kiss of Death (the suspense chapter of the Romance Writers of America).

At one of those conferences, my wife and I spent a fun, entertaining dinner with one of our favorite thriller writers, Robert Crais, who created two of our favorite PI characters: Elvis Cole and Joe Pike.

PIs Investing Crime Scenes

As PIs working on behalf of defense attorneys, my wife and I investigated a number of crime scenes after law enforcement had finished their investigations and re-opened the scenes to their everyday use. Multiple times we found evidence weeks, even months, after the crime that cracked a case.

Whether you’re an attorney, professional PI or a writer developing a private eye character, the following course material offers a lot of handy info, from crime scene investigation basics to how a private investigator might mine a former crime scene for evidence:

Private Investigators and Crime Scene Investigations, Part I

Private Investigators and Crime Scene Investigations, Part II

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Managing Partner at Shaun Kaufman Law
Shaun Kaufman has 30 years of in-court experience, with hundreds of hours spent defending numerous high-profile cases including homicide, white-collar theft and RICO offenses. Specialties: Criminal defense, personal injury, business litigation, DUI.

Shaun Kaufman Law: 303-309-0430
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What Is Social Media Saying About Your Case?

Real-time data is just an internet search away

Social media low-down is just an internet search away

Google: The Most Comprehensive Search Engine

In January 2015, web-analysis company ComScore, Inc. announced that Google Sites led desktop searches with 64.4 percent for internet search queries. To quote Ian Lurie, CEO of the internet marketing company Portent, “Google is very scary at this point as a controller of Web content.”

Yet Google searches are missing something important…

What About Real-Time Data?

In 2014 Google struck a deal with Twitter that put real-time tweets into Google’s search results. Below are two lawyers’ views about their law practices and Twitter:

I believe that Twitter is the most useful social media platform for attorneys. On a daily basis I utilize lists and hashtags to find new cases, timely articles, and interesting commentary on topics that are of interest to me. ~Ignatius Grande @igrande

Whether it is discussing late-breaking news, sharing a blog post about a hot legal issue or even group watching a tv show, Twitter is the best social media option for fast, responsive communication. ~ Jennifer Ellis @JLE_JD

Great, but outside of Twitter, what else does Google report instantly? Well, just about anything through social media search engines.

What’s a Social Media Search Engine?

Basically, it’s a program that searches for and identifies items in a database of user-generated content such as blogs, comments, bookmarks, events and so on.

That’s as technical as I’ll ever get, so let’s move on…

Lawyers + Social Media: A Win-Win

According to Social Times, 78 percent of lawyers rely on one or more social networks for professional purposes, the more prominent being attorneys in litigation, commercial law and employment/labor.

Lawyers can use real-time social media searches to:

  • Scan their presence on the Internet
  • Learn about recent developments in their area of the law
  • Mine information about witnesses, clients, prospective jurors and opponents for upcoming litigation
  • Find electronic evidence.

Let’s check out four of the best social media research tools.

Four Social Media Search Sites

My better half is an internet search ninja who forwarded me the following sites that offer real-time social media data and analytics:

SmashFuse: Immediate real-time results in social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, Vimeo and others. Easy-to-view layout with share buttons.

SocialMention: Real-time search in over a hundred media properties, from blogs to comments to images. It also provides social media analysis broken down by Strength, Sentiment, Passion, Reach, Top Users, Top Hashtags and Sources.

Social SearcherSearches content in social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ in real time. You can also sign up for “monitoring” that includes history, advanced analytics, increased email alerts and more.

Topsy: Real-time results and analytics for Twitter only. Search by links, tweets, photos and more. This search engine has been around since 2008 and is still going strong, unlike a few that fell by the wayside over the years.

Have a great weekend, Shaun

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Managing Partner at Shaun Kaufman Law
Shaun Kaufman has 30 years of in-court experience, with hundreds of hours spent defending numerous high-profile cases including homicide, white-collar theft and RICO offenses. Specialties: Criminal defense, personal injury, business litigation, DUI.

Shaun Kaufman Law: 303-309-0430
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